Joint Jewish Education Program Explores Landmark Buildings
Pittsburgh’s Joint Jewish Education Program (JJEP), which included an elective class titled Landmark Art: Inspiration from Our Buildings, concluded in April. The class, an exploration of landmark buildings was taught by Sarah Greenwald, our organization’s co-director of education. The students in the program came from Congregations Beth Shalom and Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill and Oakland neighborhoods, respectively.
Sarah guided students as they studied the foundations of architecture, learned to “read” values reflected in artistic symbols found on and in our historic buildings, created art inspired by these buildings, and discussed the importance of historic preservation. As one student so eloquently stated: “If it is made with care, and has its own unique features, it [a building] can be art.”
“Seeing these students grow to appreciate the landmark buildings of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community was a highlight of this course,” Sarah said. “I was impressed with how deeply students used this elective to think about the historic buildings around them and understand how our buildings are works of art and how they reflect our values and carry them into the future.”
As part of this course, students were asked to share their thoughts on historic preservation: Is it important? Why or why not? Some of their insights include:
“Historic preservation is important. It [The historic structure] could educate people, house people, serve as a memorial. Like Pittsburgh’s bridges, we have a lot of bridges [and] we are known for our bridges, so we should save them. They are a part of who we are.”
“They [our buildings] are a part of history. It is important to save them. For example, if a movie theater survived a nuclear war, it would tell people who survived about the past.”
Students worked diligently from home during this virtual course, completing several art-based activities, and taking virtual explorations to jumpstart their learning. “I look forward to exploring the artistry of Pittsburgh’s landmark buildings in person, next time, with these students and others,” said Sarah.